The Sermon for Sunday, July 9th, the Fifth Sunday after Trinity

The Lessons: Psalm 145:1-13; Zechariah 9:9-12; Matthew 11:25-30

The Text: Matthew 11:25-30


An extreme sports fanatic scaled the 120-foot Christ the Redeemer statue on Brazil’s Corcovado Mountain and jumped from its outstretched arms.

For the first ever such leap, Felix Baumgartner, thirty, an Austrian, smuggled his parachute on board the little train that takes dozens of tourists up the two-thousand-foot mountain to visit the statue. He scaled the gray stone figure, climbed onto one of its fingers, and jumped. Baumgartner’s parachute worked, and he was not injured.

How many people approach life like this daredevil? Rather than turning to the one who invites all who are weary to come to him and find rest, many prefer to jump out of the safety of his hands. Unlike this thrill seeker, theirs will be a far different end, for there are no spiritual parachutes for those who spurn Christ.

–         Alan Wilson, “Spurning Christ,” Preaching[1]


After denouncing the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida because they had not repented even after he had done miracles in them, the Lord Jesus Christ gives thanks to the Father that he has hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to infants (Matthew 11:25). Why did the Lord say this? Was he simply being anti-intellectual? It is unlikely, since he has just been denouncing behavior that showed a refusal to repent, behavior rooted in stubbornness and pride, and a refusal to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ. “These things,” then, refer to the truths of God’s revealed salvation. After affirming that it was God’s will to hide these things from the wise and understanding and to reveal them to those, who, in contrast to the wise, seem like infants in their lack of knowledge, he explains how these truths of salvation may be accessed, that is, by coming to him.

The Father has delivered all things to the Son (Matthew 11:27), meaning that the Lord Jesus Christ has been given full authority in heaven and on earth, as the Lord himself stated later in this Gospel before issuing the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18). The next statement reveals the truth that no-one knows the Son comprehensively and intimately except the Father, nor does anyone know the Father thoroughly except the Son (Matthew 11:27) and any person to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. This statement sounds as if it could be from the Gospel according to St. John, but it shows that knowledge of God the Father is given and revealed by God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to whomever he chooses. Does this make salvation entirely dependent on Christ’s or God’s choice? No, it does not, because the next few verses are the Lord’s invitation to everyone to make the right choice by coming to him. Man’s free will is necessary as well as God’s choice. Election and free will go hand in hand in this passage.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

(Matthew 11:28, KJV)

These are some of the Comfortable Words we hear spoken by the Deacon after the Priest pronounces the Absolution after the General Confession in our service of Holy Communion. At this point in the service, these words give comfort, for Christ removes the burden of our sins from us, and gives us forgiveness, peace of spirit, and rest.

But there were and are other burdens besides the burdens of sins. There is also the burden of working hard to earn a living. This was so for people in Jesus’ day and is still true for so many people in the world today. So much hard work does not yield nearly enough pay for so many people. Even in these circumstances, the Lord Jesus Christ gives rest to those who come to him and cast all their cares on him (1 Peter 5:7).

But the following verses add to this dimension. There is a comparison here to the yoke placed on oxen ploughing a field. Instead of a yoke of heavy burdens, Christ calls everyone to take his yoke upon them, that is, be subject to his discipline and learn from him, for he is gentle and humble, and people will find rest for their souls (Matthew 11:29). He describes his own yoke that people will bear who take it upon them, as easy and his burden light (Matthew 11:30). This call of Christ is a call to a wholly new way of life, in which we are no longer weighed down by the difficulties and toil of this life, nor by our sins and their consequences. It is the Christian way, the way of life, which does not mean that living life on earth suddenly has no sorrows, sufferings, trials, burdens, or difficulties, but that in companionship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we are given the strength to endure, and the joy of eternal fellowship with God the Blessed Trinity.


Are you still living with heavy burdens, or have you given these to the Lord Jesus Christ, and taken on his light yoke and easy burden? His will for you is the abundant life that he gives (John 10:10).

[1] p. 433, Craig Brian Larson & Phyllis Ten Elshof (General Editors): 1001 Illustrations that Connect. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, Christianity Today International, 2008.

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